Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The price of being smoke-free

Ten years ago, Davao City implemented its No Smoking Campaign in all public places and business establishments. 

I remember that it drew so much opposition. So many negative reactions. Others even blatantly defied the city ordinance by smoking right beside/under the No Smoking sign or where there is police presence in the area. 

To show political will, those who were caught were fined heavily and the ones who were prominent citizens were made an example by throwing them in jail, with TV/News coverage, in tow. Fine ranges from P500 to P10,000. Steep for a one-peso stick of a 1-minute lung-busting, cancer-causing puffing of cigarette. *huff huff* 

I think the city and its leaders were really pushed and shoved. But the political will was strong; the socio-civic groups were relentless in information dissemination of the ordinance and the health hazards smoking poses. 

The campaign is so well-integrated into the business and social agenda of the city that anywhere and everywhere, one is reminded to smoke only at designated areas. Even in open spaces, one cannot just light a cigarette unless there is a sign that says it's legally okay. Unlike the country's capital, Manila, the people or smokers take it as their right to smoke even when there are kids around. 

In Davao, al fresco establishments and bars have an enclosed smoking room. This allows the other patrons to enjoy the air sans the deadly carcinogens. 
And it's a great reminder, too that signs like this are ever present in Davao establishments. 
Just one of the numerous signs inside the hotel's premises.
The smoking ban in Davao is even part of the spiel of cabin crews upon touchdown on its airport. Really, no one can claim ignorance.

So, it is but fitting that after 10 years, the city earns a well-deserved pat on the back. In a decade, it has influenced the nearby provinces and cities to actively campaign against unregulated smoking. This influence has even extended to neighboring ASEAN countries. They use the Davao platform in drafting their own campaign. 

I think that the regulation instill discipline on the residents. It doesn't strip the tobacco companies of their right to profit. It merely put in place the proper way of enjoying the people's freedom, in this case to smoke, without sacrificing the welfare of the city and its non-smoker residents. 

Given this organic and well-rooted policy, Davao is poised to take center stage, economically and socially. 

One day, its influence will extend to grass-roots levels in barangays, urban or rural. I hope that I get to see the day that my siblings will consciously choose or even build a smoking room in our property so the children and the non-smokers in our home, will get to enjoy fresh air. 

Even after inroads in huge developments in commerce and tourism, I envision that Davao will still have blue skies like this, a decade or more, from today. 
smog-free sky, any given day.
Congratulations, Davao! To former Mayor Rudy Duterte, Sir, hats off to you. A lot of things are said about you. But one thing for certain, Davao has become a better and cleaner place because of you. 

To you, my friend, if you're curious to see more of the Philippines, you may want to give Davao a chance. I assure you, it's the safest place in the country. And it has more to offer, more than the usual.

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